Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 1 at Sea: Safety First

Each year, as we move into March, a common topic of discussion around the workplace and around town is some variation of ... "so, you got plans for Spring Break?" This is usually followed by some analysis of what we are doing, what we could be doing, what we should be doing, and so on.

This year, though, our announced plans to take a cruise are followed by some analysis of safety issues, whether we are concerned about going out to sea, and the difficulties that could arise therefrom.

Easy to understand their analysis, really. Earlier this year, there was the story of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, its tragic accident off the coast of Italy, the lives that were lost in that accident, and what is still being revealed in the ensuing investigation. With this story on their minds, more news outlets have been keeping an eye on the wires, looking for more cruise ship-related stories to share with their readers viewers ... in the U.S., a number of passengers becoming sick on two consecutive cruises of a single ship; at sea in the Indian Ocean, a cruise ship loses power and has to be towed to port; in Mexico, there is the armed robbery of a busload of passengers ashore for a cruise ship sponsored excursion.

There was another story from the U.S., and this also shapes my answers to to those concerned about my family's safety aboard Carnival Glory this week. According to this story from the wires, the departure of another Florida-based cruise ship was delayed to allow a passenger to be removed from the ship. Reportedly, the passenger declined to participate in the ship's mandatory safety briefing and muster drill, and the cruise line was within its right to remove him from the ship.

According to our briefing today. ships of this class/function are required by international law to have this briefing/drill within 24 hours of departure. In my experience - all with Carnival, all departing the U.S. - we have these before the ship is set in motion. And we are warned that failure to participate will result in our debarkation.

And that proved to be the case this time around, as well. We experienced the alarm system - a combination of the shi[ps horn, and very loud tones from speakers in our rooms and in public areas. We didn't have to retrieve and don our life jackets, but we did learn where they were stowed in our rooms. Directions to our muster station were delivered by the overhead speakers, and reinforced by crew members all along the way.

Something different this time around - once we reached our muster station, everyone was asked to please be quiet during the briefing ... and that was fine, it didn't take that long, and even I was able to be quiet for its duration. And that was it. The ship blasted its horn, and we were off.

And I was headed for one of the bars on deck, to enjoy watching the City of Miami passing by, and a cold beer with a sandwich from the ship's deli. Let the vacation begin ... I'm safe and satisfied.

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